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Merida, Mexico

Best Places to Visit in Mexico for Christmas Cheer

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Welcome Home Mexico
Welcome Home Mexico

Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Mexico for Christmas cheer.

As the festive season approaches, Mexico transforms into a wonderland of lights, colors, and celebrations. Expats and digital nomads looking for a taste of holiday cheer will find that Mexico offers a unique blend of traditional festivities, vibrant markets, and local customs that make for an unforgettable December. From the cobblestone streets of colonial towns to the bustling neighborhoods of major cities, here are some of the best places to visit in Mexico to get into the holiday spirit.

Mexico City's Zocalo

The heart of Mexico's capital, the Zocalo, is a must-visit during the holiday season. As one of the largest city squares in the world, it hosts a magnificent Christmas tree and a life-size nativity scene. The entire area is adorned with festive lights and decorations. In December, the Zocalo becomes the center of holiday activities, including open-air concerts and traditional posadas, which are reenactments of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter. The festive atmosphere is contagious, with vendors selling holiday treats and artisanal gifts.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to try the warm, sweet ponche, a traditional Mexican Christmas punch made with fruits and spices, which is especially popular during the posadas.

Oaxaca City

Oaxaca City is renowned for its rich cultural traditions and Christmas is no exception. The city's holiday markets, like the Mercado de Navidad, are filled with colorful decorations, handcrafted gifts, and local delicacies. One of the highlights is Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) held on December 23rd, where artisans carve intricate scenes from radishes. The event includes parades, music, and dance performances, making it a unique and lively way to celebrate the season.

We Recommend: Be sure to taste the Oaxacan tamales and the local hot chocolate, which are holiday staples and can be found at the festive markets.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, with its UNESCO World Heritage status, offers a picturesque setting for Christmas festivities. The entire town is beautifully decorated, and the main square, El Jardin, is particularly festive with a large Christmas tree and nativity scene. The town hosts various holiday events, including posadas, and the Christmas Eve procession, La Calle de las Flores, where the streets are lined with candles and flowers.

We Recommend: Try the traditional Christmas sweet bread, Rosca de Reyes, which is often enjoyed during the holiday season in San Miguel de Allende.

Guadalajara's Tlaquepaque Neighborhood

Tlaquepaque, a charming neighborhood in Guadalajara, is known for its artisanal crafts and colonial-style architecture. During December, the area is transformed with festive lights and decorations. The neighborhood hosts various Christmas events, including live music and dance performances. The local markets offer a range of holiday goods, from hand-blown glass ornaments to seasonal treats.

We Recommend: Indulge in the buñuelos, a crispy fried treat dusted with sugar and cinnamon, often sold by street vendors during the holiday season.

Merida

The capital of Yucatan, Merida, celebrates Christmas with a blend of Mayan and Spanish traditions. The city's main plaza becomes a hub of activity with holiday markets selling local crafts and food. The Mérida en Domingo event, which takes place every Sunday in December, features cultural performances and workshops. The city also hosts a Christmas parade, usually in early December, with floats and entertainment for all ages.

We Recommend: Sample the marquesitas, a Yucatecan dessert similar to a crepe, filled with cheese and various sweet toppings, a favorite at holiday markets.

Puebla

Puebla, known for its culinary heritage and colonial architecture, offers a festive atmosphere during December. The city's Zocalo is adorned with holiday lights and a towering Christmas tree. Puebla's Christmas markets are a great place to find traditional sweets like camotes, a type of sweet potato candy. The city also hosts a variety of concerts and cultural events throughout the holiday season.

We Recommend: Don't leave without trying the chalupas, a Pueblan specialty that's perfect for a quick holiday snack while exploring the markets.

Monterrey

Monterrey celebrates Christmas with a modern twist. The city's Macroplaza is home to a large ice-skating rink and a spectacular light show. The Santa Lucia Riverwalk is another spot where holiday decorations and lights create a magical atmosphere. Monterrey's Parque Fundidora hosts the Luztopía Festival, a light festival featuring illuminated sculptures and Christmas-themed displays.

We Recommend: Enjoy a cup of atole, a traditional warm beverage made from corn masa, which can be found at many of the holiday stands in Monterrey.

Morelia

Morelia's colonial charm is amplified during the Christmas season. The city's historic center is beautifully lit, and the Cathedral is a sight to behold with its festive decorations. Morelia hosts a Christmas market where visitors can find handcrafted ornaments and traditional sweets. The city also has a series of concerts and cultural events, including a Christmas Eve celebration with fireworks.

We Recommend: Taste the Morelian gazpacho, a refreshing fruit salad drizzled with chili powder and lime, a unique local treat available at the holiday markets.

Queretaro

Queretaro's historic center, with its baroque architecture, provides a stunning backdrop for its Christmas festivities. The plazas and streets are adorned with lights and decorations, and the city hosts a variety of events, including holiday concerts and theatrical performances. The Christmas market in the main square offers everything from artisanal crafts to seasonal foods.

We Recommend: Try the enchiladas queretanas, a regional dish that's especially popular during the festive season and can be found at food stalls throughout the city.

Whether you're looking for traditional Mexican Christmas experiences or modern holiday festivities, these destinations offer a wealth of options for expats and digital nomads to immerse themselves in the local culture and celebrate the season in style.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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